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Lower Decks: Ensign Serren Tan, USS Gorkon

We’re here with another interview with a newer member of our community. The title of this column is “Lower Decks,” hearkening back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “Lower Decks,” in which junior officers aboard the Enterprise-D speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.

This month’s interview is with the writer behind Ensign Tan playing a joined Trill male security/tactical officer assigned to the USS Gorkon.

Taybrim: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?

Tan: I hail from Canberra, Australia, meaning that I’m on the opposite time zone from most folks onboard our ship (we’re mostly Americans and Europeans). I’m a software engineer and writer by day, having written and published 25 novels. By night I’m also a software engineer and writer, just usually asleep. Outside of work, I have a strong personal interest in Antarctica and autonomous sea drones.

What duty post are you playing, and how’d you choose it?

I’m playing Security! I chose it because my previous characters were Security, Ops and Helm, and out of the three of them, Security was my favourite. Security is one of those posts where the perception of what makes a good security officer — dumb muscle — is very different from the reality. Providing security on a starship is more than simply walking the corridors and arresting people. It’s ensuring that the ship’s computers are secure and uncompromised, it’s assessing the intentions of visitors to the ship, it’s checking incoming cargo and provisions to make sure they’re safe, it’s vetting the civilian residents and performing undercover operations when required. You’re basically a detective, ICT specialist, applied psychologist, and secret agent all wrapped into one. It’s a fun post and there’s a lot to do.

Lower Decks interview: Ens. Geoffrey Teller, Veritas

We’re here with another interview with a newer member of our community. The title of this column is “Lower Decks,” hearkening back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “Lower Decks,” in which junior officers aboard the Enterprise-D speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.

This month’s interview is with the writer behind Ens. Geoffrey Teller playing a Human engineer assigned to the Veritas.

THORAN: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from?

TELLER: I’m originally from Brooklyn, New York but for the last several years I’ve lived in Seattle, Washington with my wife and, most recently, our wonderful 5 month old son.

Were you a Star Trek fan before joining UFOP: StarBase 118? If so, what were your favourite shows and/or movies?

Indeed I was – I’ve watched every series, including the Animated one, and read a number of the EU books. As far as favorites, it’s difficult to choose but overall it has to be The Original Series as my favorite, with TNG a close second. Best movies are Wrath of Khan and First Contact, respectively. Favorite episode actually comes from DS9 – In the Pale Moonlight. That single episode added so much depth and texture to the ST universe I think it should be on a little pedestal by itself.

Lower Decks interview: Ens. Wallace Williams, Embassy

We’re here with another interview with a newer member of our community. The title of this column is “Lower Decks,” hearkening back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “Lower Decks,” in which junior officers aboard the Enterprise-D speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.

This month’s interview is with the writer behind Ens. Wallace Williams playing a Human male assigned to the Embassy.

THORAN: Can you tell us a little about yourself for the folks who may not know you?

WILLIAMS: My name is Jerry, I am from Amsterdam in the Netherlands and I turn 25 on Oct. 7th! I have seen a great part of the Netherlands when it comes to living already, but I am happy to be back in Amsterdam. I recently started my own Webshop!

Is this your first simming experience, or have you done other forms of role-playing before?

This is my first sim style RPG so this was a brand new experience for me. I didn’t expect I would start to like it so much! I am really happy to be here!

The Lower Decks: Ensign Graeme Cook

In this edition of the Lower Decks, we’re speaking of Ensign Graeme Cook, a medical officer aboard the USS Darwin-A, our Horizon class science vessel.

Ensign Cook boarded his first assignment right in the thick of it, as his captain had recently been kidnapped, he’d aided a patient in a double leg amputation which earned him a lifesaving citation, and has already been chosen for various away teams and hazardous duties. Managing the medical bay has his hands full at the moment, but Graeme does take the time to unwind, and experience some things he’s not accustomed to in the holodeck. His father had introduced a strange old game that used to be played on Earth some time ago called hockey, which he enjoys quite often. His love of old whiskeys can often add to the mix too, as he frequents the crew lounge aboard the Darwin called ‘Natural Selection.’

The writer for Ensign Cook, well, Graeme Cook… hails from Aberdeen, Scotland. There he makes a home with his wife and five children, settling in after an 11-year career in the Scottish military, serving his country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Having moved onto other endeavors, Graeme hopes to one day soon become a paramedic. We can see were much of the inspiration for his character has come from here! He fancies himself a TOS sort of guy, and always appreciated the love-hate nature of Bones and Spock. Simming wasn’t always an easy thing — he described it as being strange at first, writing the thoughts and feelings of someone else down, and describing just about everything they could be doing or thinking, and then adding in OTHER people on top of that! But he soon became accustomed to it, and made a few friends along the way.

Graeme applauds our community forums, finding much inspiration and friendship there, as well as his mentor for helping him along so much in his time with the community. Graeme hopes to continue on and watch his character grow, move through the ranks to hopefully complete his training as a Captain. Ensign Graeme is certainly a great addition to the Darwin, and to the community at large.

Lower Decks: Lieutenant Alora DeVeau

:: A deep pulse of bass music opens up with a graphic of turbolift flashes over the screen before the screen lights raise up to focus in on Vulcan man seated in a chair with a pair of ceramic coffee mugs on a small table between his chair and the as of yet off screen occupied one. ::

Sopek: Hello and Greetings. My name is Sopek and it is time once more for an installment of The Lower Decks. Where we leave behind the center chair and big office and go down below to speak with the crew of the vessels and bases in Starfleet. ::He shifts slightly to meet the changing camera and waves a hand to the other chair.:: Tonight’s guest is Lieutenant, junior grade, Alora DeVeau. She serves as a science officer on the USS Mercury. Good Evening Lieutenant.

The Lower Decks: Leo Handley-Page

::As the title graphic fades and the lights come up to show a stoic Vulcan sitting in a chair looking at the recorders. Beyond his chair the familiar small table sporting two coffee mugs and the chair of his guest.::

Sopek: Greetings to you my friends. It is time again for The Lower Decks. My guest today is the Chief Tactical & Security Officer on the USS Garuda, LtCmdr Leo Handley-Page. Good evening Commander.

Handley-Page: Good evening, old boy. Glad to be here.

Sopek: So, you’ve recently shifted to the Garuda. How can you compare it to the other ships you’ve served on?

Handley-Page: It’s certainly the biggest ship I have ever had the pleasure to serve on. We’re just heading out on our first mission. I have served with one or two of the crew before, but it’s good to meet new faces as well as familiar ones.

Sopek: I understand you have held a few positions within the ranks of the crew.

Handley-Page: I was privileged to have been First Officer when my previous ship, the USS Vigilant, was launched in 2389. I then became Strategic Operations Officer, Byzallian Liaison and Major of Marines before my recent transfer.

Sopek: What did you, in your position as the Strategic Operations Officer do?

Handley-Page: That is a good question. Basically, the role combines areas of Tactical, Security and a bit of Operations too. With such a good Chief Tactical & Security Officer on the Vigilant already in the imposing form of LtCmdr Eerie, I had taken the SOO dept in a more off-ship context, working with other departments to ensure the safety of the ship from hostile threats.

Sopek: You also led the Marine contingent on the Vigilant. What can you tell us about the Marines in your squad. What set them apart?

Handley-Page: I really enjoyed leading the marines, and I miss it very much. Being head of the marines fitted perfectly with my role of SOO. I also liked to think I was the bridge between the marines, and the ship’s security teams. My team of marines was second to none. They were fierce, determined, skilled and very brave. They were also all ladies, which is unusual but most welcome in our modern starship. Each and every one of them would be a credit to any ship in the Fleet. Knowing they have things under control allows me to take some time off, now and again.

Sopek: What about your pastimes?

Handley-Page: Well, I have quite a few. I enjoy playing with all kinds of gadgetry and mechanical curiosities. I have a large stash of them in my quarters. I am also quite fond of fencing, Parrises squares, investigating mysteries and listening to Byzallian music – mostly solid state surge and chemical metal.

Sopek: You’ve served a variety of ships and had your fair share of missions. Could you share some of your most memorable?

Handley-Page: Well, my career has been long and varied – ups and downs aplenty. I do recall some crazy antics. One mission that I recall as being especially epic was on the USS Vigilant earlier this year, during Fleet Captain Herrera’s absence on Duronis. The crew, under Acting CO Greir Reinard, flew to the underwater city of the Asavii people, and helped them evacuate their crumbling biodome and make a new life among the stars. We had to deal with giant building-eating eels and treachorous locals, especially the firebrand religious zealot of the tribe – Ozryn Bram. He was eventually defeated by his own plans when the eels he was trying to control turned on him and his temple.

Sopek: A truly fascinating mission. Being first officer and then a leader of the Marine contingent, do you aspire to command?

Handley-Page: Yes, I would dearly love to command a ship of my own one day.. but the course of one’s career takes many twists and turns, not all of them planned. Who knows.. maybe one day.. but for now I am content to do my duty and serve with the Fleet.

Sopek: ::With a slight nod.:: Did have you find that being Byzallian Liaison in the Zeta Gelis region and the Menthar Corridor affected your balance of duties?

Handley-Page: It had been relatively easy, and in some cases very useful. During a recent mission at Deep Space Six, a group of Zalkonian terrorists tried to seize the station, and our quantum slipstream drive for good measure. The gun battles to retake the station were furious, and were balanced on a knife edge. Fortunately the station had a platoon of Byzallian troops stationed there, and I was able to point them in the right direction of the battle. As for juggling it with my other duties, it fitted in nicely with being head of the marine contingent. Both Byzallians and Marines were experienced in the art of warfare, so the two roles went hand in hand. I am hoping one day that the USS Garuda may visit Byzatium. I can then give my colleagues a guided tour of the planet, assuming the war there had died down a bit.

Sopek: Is it hard being raised in such a manner?

Handley-Page: Yes, very hard indeed. I actually spent the first ten years of my life with my Mum and adoptive Dad in great comfort on Earth. However, my biological father – Mons Vor – took me, against my will, to live with him on Byzatium. From age eleven onwards, I was thrust into the dark world of intrigue and courtly battles as my father tried to unseat the government. He failed, and I escaped after seven years with him. I have never returned. I guess I was luckier than most. My father’s high rank meant that I faced very little of the everyday hardships of Byzallian life – but Mons Vor wrath was even worse at times than a continent full of *Crazies* (what we called the mutants wandering the wastelands there).

Sopek: And you chose then to enlist in the academy?

Handley-Page: Yes, I needed some place to not only hide, but to use the skills my father had instilled in me. If I just took any job on a private ship I’d probably have been hunted down and captured. Star Fleet academy was probably the safest to be at that time. I thoroughly enjoyed it and focused my energies into the areas of science and engineering. It was only after my unexpected career interlude that my focus moved more towards tactical and marines.

Sopek: Which interlude led you to that path?

Handley-Page: I was trapped in amongst a colony full of Romulan rioters. My only means of escaping was letting my phaser overload, which sadly took some of my attackers with me. I got sent for a court martial, but was exonerated. Since then I realised that I actually had more skills in fighting than in science and gadgets, so I opted to swap.

Sopek: Can you tell us more about that?

Handley-Page: We were transported down to build an encampment to help the Romulan colonists on Bilire VI in the wake of the Hobus disaster. There was a plague sweeping through the colony, and some of the locals blamed the Star Fleet officers for introducing it. Some hotheads started a riot and attacked our encampment. We were heavily outnumbered and outgunned. I drew some of them away into the jungle, but was cornered in a clearing. My action in exploding the phaser was not my preferred option, but desperate times… anyway, I am still here and battling on.

Sopek: Very efficiently from your record Commander.

Handley-Page: One tries.

Sopek: Your mother and adopted father, did you have occasion reunite with them since your return?

Handley-Page: Yes, yes I do, probably not as often as I’d like.. but at least once a year, and more often on sub-space comms. Having been parted from them for nearly eight during my teens, it made me appreciate the time I do spend with them now. After escaping Byzatium and getting back to Earth (and Star Fleet), I spent a few months with them… reluctant to even leave the family home in Oxford.

Sopek: You’ve had an opportunity to get much out of your career and have seen so many places and people. Does the exploration aspect interest you?

Handley-Page: Yes, what drew me to Star Fleet was the opportunity to explore new worlds, and push the frontiers of the known galaxy. That’s what it is all about.

Sopek: Do you ever find yourself regretting choices made?

Handley-Page: Constantly…

Sopek: Unfortunately Commander that answer also marks the end of our time together here on The Lower Decks its been a pleasure talking with you and I hope you have many more years of success before you.

Handley-Page: Thank you so much for this opportunity. It has been a pleasure.

Leo the Writer: I joined Starbase118 in November 2010, or should that be Stardate 2387.10? Either way, it was probably the best decision I have ever made.. seriously. Anyway, I guess you’re wondering what makes my SIM world tick? Writing has always been a passion of mine and my first taste of formal prose came when I started writing articles for my student union newspaper. Later in life I branched out into technical writing as a profession, but science-fiction and alternative history stories have always been my first true love (writing-wise anyway).

Lower Decks: Lieutenant Commander Brek

:: A deep pulse of bass music opens up with a graphic of turbolift flashes over the screen before the screen lights raise up to focus in on a Vulcan man seated in a chair with a pair of ceramic coffee mugs on a small table between his chair and the as of yet off screen occupied one. ::

Sopek: Hello and Greetings. My name is Sopek and it is time to once more leave behind the center chair and big office and journey down the turbolift to The Lower Decks. Where we speak with the crew of the vessels and bases in Starfleet. ::He shifts slightly to meet the changing camera and waves a hand to the other chair.:: Tonight’s guest is Lieutenant Commander Brek. Commander Brek is the diplomatic officer for the USS Excalibur-A. Good Evening Commander.

::Brek, who until now had been sat on his chair with the flexibility of a statue, forced himself to put a crooked smile on his face. Why had he accepted to be interviewed? He had no idea. Probably a vague sense of duty. After all, Starfleet Academy was good at instilling that sort of sentiments to its recruits.::

Brek: Good evening Mister Sopek. It is a pleasure to be with you tonight.
::During his posting on Starbase 118, Brek had seen all sorts of journalists, but he had never met a Vulcan one. Perhaps this was the true reason why he had accepted to face the camera. The opportunity to speak to someone who wasn’t hewmon was bound to be refreshing.::

Sopek: So Commander, the logical place to start is with the beginning. What brought you to Starfleet?

::Brek looked at the camera as if to say ‘free meals, if I’m honest.’::

Brek: Well, like most Ferengis, I’m not really taken by the sense of adventure that Starfleet offers. What I saw in the Fleet was the opportunity to reconstruct my life. I had reached a point where none of my attempts to become successful had worked, so I needed to take a different, more drastic, approach to prosperity.

Sopek: Most interesting Commander. And your choice to take the path of diplomacy?

Brek: Well… I started out as a science cadet, but soon discovered that long hours spent in labs weren’t for me. I felt I’d fare better in a different department. One where I’d have the opportunity to meet a lot of people. That’s how I tried my hand at diplomacy. That’s also how I discovered that I have a genuine cultural interest for all the species that live in our galaxy.

Sopek: How have you fared working on the Excalibur?

Brek: The ship’s been launched recently, and has only gone through one mission, in Romulan space. It’s a radical change from the functions I used to have on Starbase 118, which was my previous posting. So, in a way I’m still adjusting myself to a life in space. It’s challenging, but rewarding too, and, Ferengi or not, that’s what counts.

Sopek: It must give you some excitement to work in such a diplomatically active region.

Brek: ::Smiling.:: The best part of being on the Excalibur is its Quantum Slipstream Drive. We are now able to travel so fast, that I truly have no idea where our next missions are going to take us. So far I’ve mainly specialized in Romulan politics, and I’d welcome the opportunity of meeting new species. It might seems strange to say so, but except for my handling of a few commercial contracts, I haven’t had too many encounters with species who live on far away planets.

Sopek: And what of your family? Are they back on Ferenginar?

Brek: As far as I know most of my relatives live on Ferenginar, yes. It’s difficult to tell, as I’m not close to them, but there is nothing strange in that. Ferengi families will sometimes part company, as every individual travels the galaxy to make their fortune.

Sopek: And they are supportive of your choice?

Brek: I don’t suppose they do. But I’d say that if we all only did what our relatives permitted, we would lead sheltered lives. I feel better with myself having followed my calling.

Sopek: And it seems to be favoring you well being promoted to Lieutenant Commander.

Brek: Those three pips… they are nice aren’t they? I owe them to the generosity of Starfleet, and my Captain, of course: Fleet Captain Nicholotti, that is. The thing is, and I’m saying this in case there are some Ferengi younglings listening to this interview: if you work hard enough, the Fleet will always rewards you.

Sopek: What do you do in your free time?

Brek: ::Smiling.:: I’m tempted to ask ‘what free time?’, but it wouldn’t give
a just picture of what my life is like. I’m a bit of an art collector, so I buy and sell a lot of valuable items. I guess it’s not that I enjoy art for itself that much, but this activity keeps my Ferengi instincts alert, in a harmless way.

Sopek: Do you have a favorite piece?

Brek: Hmm… I never keep what I buy for long periods, since my aim is to turn a profit. But I tend to stick to Terran or Romulan art, especially old paintings or leather bound books. Ambassador Ventu possesses an amazing collection of those fascinating books. I guess that’s how I developed such a liking for them.

Sopek: You seem to be doing[a] well in your chosen career path. Do you have any long term goals?

Brek: Beyond having a long career within the Fleet, I would like see to Romulan Empire reinstated to its former glory. Diplomacy is making progress in that direction, but it’s a slow, arduous process.

Sopek: Is it in your opinion then that a return to an established Romulan Empire will help stabilize the region?

Brek: :With a little smile.:: This is a tricky question, one which has the potential to bring new enemies to my door. So I’d just say that, to me, the whole galaxy is the poorer without the Romulans to play their rightful part in it.

Sopek: A most interesting thought Commander. Unfortunately our time is drawing to a close. Your mention of books earlier prompts me to ask, is there a quote from your favorite book you’d like to leave us with?

Brek: Well, I’d lie if I said I’m that well-read. But as it happen, I do like to collect quotes. With them being free, it’s not a demanding occupation. So, let me see… I think I’ll conclude with wisdom of William Shakespeare: ‘Better three hours too soon than a minute too late’. Which pretty much sums up how diplomacy works.[b]

Sopek: A most fitting quote. Thank you for your time Commander. ::Sopek shifts in his chair to face the recorder.:: Thank all of you as well. I am Sopek and this has been The Lower Decks. To Lieutenant Commander Brek and everyone watching might I say. ::He raised his hand in the traditional Vulcan salute.:: Long Life and Prosperity.


Brek is played by a French woman with an obsession not for Ferengis, but for the English language, which she will butcher happily in her posts. She likes all things British (well, not so much the food) and when rl gives her a bit of time, she can be found chasing insects (with a camera, and in summer), reading sf short stories, or books about writing, (which is quite an interesting way not to write).

Lower Decks: Ensign A’ern Zerxes

prometheus004In yet another edition of the Lower Decks, we bring you Ensign A’ern Zerxes from the USS Tiger-A. Having already been a member of various RPG groups in the past, the writer had wanted to come back to the scene for some time, and has finally found a home here with us.

The writer for Zerxes, Jess, hails from Southern Virginia. Among simming here with us, he enjoys a throng of other forms of literature creation including poetry, creative writing, fiction, and he is also the lead writer for a Dallas Cowboys fan/news site. The foreshadowing in the previous statements hints to us  that he also enjoys sports, specifically basketball and football. His love for Trek started back in the early 90’s having watched TNG, beginning during the third season. He specifically recalls the “Best of Both Worlds” episode: “Having [the episode] come so quickly in my viewing experience was probably what sealed the deal for me as a life-long fan. I have since followed DS9 and Voyager, and have seen all the feature films.” Like many of us, he’s done quite a bit of homework.

Lower Decks: LTJG Richard Matthews

Matthews-plainLTJG Richard Matthews has been around for a short while now, enough to make himself a bit of a name aboard the USS Apollo, but having been transferred as a new face aboard a brand new ship, he hopes to do much of the same aboard the Vigilant. Here to tell us a bit about the character, the writer for Mr. Matthews is anything short of  average.

Lower Decks: Ensign Debra Cross

debra crossAnother fresh ensign comes to us in this edition of the Lower Decks from the USS Apollo. The writer for Ensign Debra Cross, a security officer, comes to tell us a little bit about himself, and the character he has created. Being new aboard a fairly new ship certainly has its opportunities!

The writer for Ensign Cross, Giles, is from the UK. He works in the cook shop retail business, and among other things, partakes in semi-pro photography (you can check out some of his work by clicking here), and is a certified masseur. In addition to his experience in the arts, he enjoys theater, and has a passion for good food and drink. Having come from a computer oriented background, its no wonder he found our community.

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